Union Budget 2024: What Cybersecurity Ecosystem is Expecting With the 3rd highest number of internet users, India ranked among the top five countries to be affected by cybercrime

By Paromita Gupta

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In an era which is being dominated by digital advancements and technological leaps such as artificial intelligence, GenAI, and Web3, the significance of cybersecurity has never been more prominent. With Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman slated to present the Union Budget for the fiscal year 2023–24 on February 1, expectations from all industries are coming in. Let's take a look at what the industry players and experts from the cybersecurity ecosystem are expecting.

Increase in budget allocation

At the Union Budget 2023, FM allocated a corpus of INR 625 crore to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for strengthening cybersecurity infrastructure. However, experts hope for a bigger budget allocation as India is 3rd highest in terms of number of internet users, and ranks among the top five countries to be affected by cybercrime.

Simply put, cybersecurity threats and attacks can affect India's developing economy at large. "A sufficient amount of funds should be included in the next budget to support domestic cybersecurity firms and create a climate that supports intellectual property in cybersecurity," shares Binod Singh, CEO and Chairman, Cross Identity.

Make data protection a top priority

In November 2022, AIIMS Delhi faced a severe cybersecurity attack which crippled its internal system, forcing healthcare professionals to resort to manual processes and paralyzing computer-run services for 15 days.

But THE DIGITAL PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION ACT, of 2023 is one step towards protecting individual and collective cyber rights. The Indian Government passed the DPDP Act as an act to provide for the processing of digital personal data in a manner that recognises both the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to process such personal data for lawful purposes.

"This will be the first budget after the Digital Personal Data Protection Act (DPDP) became effective in 2023, so hopefully, it will continue to make data protection a top priority in compliance with global data privacy and cybersecurity regulations. The budget should include supportive tax policies for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cybersecurity, and IoT (Internet of Things), making India a global hub for emerging technologies and providing the tech sector an opportunity to become an international leader in these initiatives," shares Arun Mamgai, Lead Cybersecurity, Data Science Specialist and Startup Mentor.

Protection for businesses

"India's rapid advancement may cause surrounding nations to become more frustrated, leading to an increase in cyberattacks. This emphasizes the urgent need for a strong cybersecurity framework," adds Singh.

According to digital security firm Gemalto, data breach incidents in India were the second highest globally in 2018.

"We would like to see the upcoming budget carry a strong focus helping businesses overcome the threats of cyberattacks and other digital risks. Indian businesses are adopting digital solutions at an accelerated pace but yet their cybersecurity maturity remains low. A budget that supports SMEs and startups growth while ensuring their cybersecurity needs are taken care of is much needed in the current AI and digital age.The government's approach needs to move beyond building compliance frameworks to providing tangible subsidies for cybersecurity protection solutions," said Kumar Ritesh, Founder, Cyfirma.

Citizen awareness

While technology has brought a new chapter in several sectors and industries, AI and GenAI's lethal use of deepfakes pose a danger. According to Home Security Heroes, a US-based web security services company, deepfake videos saw a five-times increase since 2019. India, particularly, witnessed troubled instances of deepfake videos of Rashmika Mandanna, Alia Bhatt, Kajol, Aishwarya Rai and Katrina Kaif.

Awareness needs to be created among citizens. "The threats coming from the latest cyberspace should be addressed. Strict rules related to privacy, spamming and phishing should be made and strictly implemented. Number of Cyber police and centers should be increased. Awareness based training must be imparted to govt officials so that they can understand the changing digital landscape," shares Dr. Nihar Ranjan Roy, Associate Professor, Center for Cyber Security and Cryptology, Sharda University.

Paromita Gupta

Features Writer with Entrepreneur India

Covering news and trends in AI and Metaverse segments. An avid book reader running her personal blog on the side. You may reach me at paromita@entrepreneurindia.com. 

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